COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The furthest that Temple redshirt junior defensive end Quincy Roche wants to look ahead is to Friday.
Beyond that he insists that any other business can wait.
It’s pretty big business in Roche’s case, since he will have to contemplate whether to return to Temple or put his name in the NFL draft. Temple redshirt junior center Matt Hennessy is in the same predicament. Both players received their degrees earlier this month.
Unlike Hennessy, Roche is playing this bowl game in his backyard, so to speak. Temple (8-4) will face North Carolina (6-6) in Friday’s Military Bowl at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
Roche attended New Town High in Owings Mills, Md. He said the bowl game will be less than an hour’s drive away for his family.
Underclassmen have until Jan. 20 to declare for the NFL draft. Roche says that he has plenty of time from the end of the bowl game until the 20th to make a decision.
“We are down at a bowl game and have to lock in and rally our troops, and I am really putting that off until after the bowl game,” Roche said on Monday before the Owls practiced at the University of Maryland’s indoor facility. “Right now I am focused on winning a bowl game and getting everybody locked in.”
The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Roche would be locked in for a bowl game if it were played in Alaska, but the fact that it is in his home state and will be attended by plenty of his fans makes it even more special.
“It is good, a lot of family friends coming to this game, and I am really excited,” he said.
Temple coach Rod Carey says he acts as a facilitator in the process where any underclassman is considering the NFL. Carey says the NFL gets involved in the evaluation process, giving a player a first-round, second-round, or return-to-school grade.
“All I do is give them the information, and it’s the player’s decision to make,” Carey said.
That said, any coach would be more than happy to welcome back a player who has NFL potential.
Roche was considered an NFL prospect before the season. Through eight games he was enjoying a solid year, while also battling nagging injuries.
During the last four games he has been all-world, with 13 tackles for loss, including 10 sacks. For the season he has 44 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and 13 sacks. He was named the American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year. Roche also earned first-team all-American honors from Sports Illustrated, and second-team honors from the Sporting News, USA Today, and Pro Football Focus.
“When you watch him on the field it is completely different than from on the sidelines,” said Temple two-time all-conference linebacker Shaun Bradley. “He is a remarkable player. The things he does, the plays he makes, and the certain times he makes them, it is ridiculous.”
Carey wanted it known that Roche’s progress came well before these final four games.
“We are talking over the course of 11 months that we have been here,” Carey said. “Coming in from a real unknown commodity, and now he is being named to all-American teams and things like that is a tribute to him and his work ethic and how he has taken to coaching and really just gone with it.”
And he will go with it at least for one more game, a special one with so much support behind him in the stands.
“We want to go out and win a bowl game, close out the year, and win for the seniors,” Roche said.
It will be interesting to see whether a Temple underclassman will be saying that same thing next year, while talking about Roche.